Spurs extend Sacramento's skid with late run

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Spurs extend Sacramento's skid with late run

March 11, 2011BOXSCORE KINGS VIDEONBAPAGE NBASCOREBOARD
SAN ANTONIO (AP) Bat scares and losses. That's all the Sacramento Kings get when they visit San Antonio.Manu Ginobili scored 24 points, but this time took no bold swipes at a bat once again interrupting a Kings game in San Antonio, and the Spurs survived both the bat brush and Sacramento in a 108-103 win Friday night.Last season against the Kings - on Halloween, no less - Ginobili swatted down a bat circling the court. But what at first was commended as fearless reflexes wound up getting Ginobili a rabies vaccination and the scorn of animal rights activists.He wasn't making that mistake twice."I said 'Not again,'" Ginobili said. "PETA insulted me. So I said this time someone else is going to take care of it."Tony Parker scored 27 points and Tim Duncan had 15 for the Spurs. The brief bat commotion in the second quarter ended when it flew smack into a fan seated in the third row, and after that, the NBA-best Spurs had their work cut out for them against the lowly Kings.Jermaine Taylor and Omri Casspi had 16 points apiece for Sacramento, which took a 91-88 lead midway through the fourth quarter on Taylor's alley-oop dunk. The Kings already count the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando among their scant 15 wins this season, and at that moment, it looked like they might add the Spurs to the list during an otherwise miserable season.But Ginobili answered with two 3-pointers on the next three Spurs possessions. That jump-started a 17-2 run that quickly changed a near-upset to the fifth straight loss for Sacramento.Sacramento has lost 11 in a row to the Spurs, a streak that dates to 2007."It was kind of an impossible dream for us," Kings coach Paul Westphal said. "We were sitting here talking about how maybe we could have beat the Spurs on their court. But maybe we could have."Ginobili scored 10 points in the fourth, and DeJuan Blair had six of his 14 points in the quarter. George Hill also scored 14 for the Spurs.Pooh Jeter finished with 15 for the Kings. DeMarcus Cousins had 10 points and 11 rebounds, and Francisco Garcia added 14 points.The Spurs played without forward Richard Jefferson, who missed the game for undisclosed personal reasons. Rookie James Anderson started in his place, scoring just three points in 18 minutes.Jefferson is expected to back in the lineup Sunday at Houston. It's the easiest stop on a three-game road swing for the Spurs, who'll also play at Miami and at Dallas before returning home March 19 to play Charlotte."We're going to have to play way better," Ginobili said.The Kings were also down a starter. Point guard Beno Udrih, their second-leading scorer (13.8 ppg), stayed in Sacramento with the flu. Luther Head started in Udrih's place, scoring seven points.Last season it was Udrih giving Ginobili grief for his bat-batting. This time, Westphal came closest to the bat, but whiffed when he took a lunging swing at it with his whiteboard."If that thing would've come six inches closer, I probably would have knocked it into next year," Westphal said.An usher wrapped the bat in a towel after panicked fans in the third row grounded it. They said the usher carried the bat away alive."Every time we come there's a bat out there on the court," Westphal said. "It's more of gamesmanship from Pop, I'm sure. You notice it's always flying around on our end."Notes: The Kings will have one more chance April 6 to break their skid against the Spurs. ... San Antonio improved to 31-3 at home.

As Samardzija ages, it isn't as easy to lose the weight gained in offseason

As Samardzija ages, it isn't as easy to lose the weight gained in offseason

Jeff Samardzija is entering Year 2 of the five-year contract he signed with the Giants following the 2015 season.

With spring training underway, what is the hardest part about getting his body and mind prepared for the upcoming campaign?

"The pitching aspects of things, the older I get, the more they kind of just fall right in line with feeling my mechanics out," Samardzija explained on KNBR 680 on Wednesday morning. "For me, it's probably the cardio (laughter). The older I get, the more I realize that you put more weight on in the offseason, then it's a little harder to get off.

"You hear about it, right? You hear about it all the time when you're younger ... and my offseasons, I like to have offseasons. I don't watch my calories. I don't watch my intake (I don't really watch any of that anyways). But the offseason -- I have fun, I relax ... then you get working out again and usually those first five or six poles, two-mile runs, camelback hikes -- they're always pretty interesting the first couple times."

The former college wide receiver is listed at 225 pounds.

Samardzija turned 32 years old in January and is entering his 10th big-league season.

He went 12-11 with a 3.81 ERA over 32 starts last year.

Over his final 10 starts, he went 3-3 with a 2.45 ERA.

"The splitter came back for me there toward the end of the year," Samardzija said. "I kind of brought the curveball in to not replace, but kind of take up some of the space of the splitter that wasn't there.

"And then come September, the splitter showed up and then we had the curveball and we ran with it from there."

I don't skate like a man, just a darn good woman

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I don't skate like a man, just a darn good woman

In late December, I was invited to play in a pick-up hockey game with some other members of the local sports media community. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I was one of only two women there that day. Even now, female ice hockey players aren’t exactly common.

After the game, a reporter I’ve known a while – a guy I like a lot – said to me: “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you skate like a man.” I didn’t take it wrong, of course; he meant it as a compliment. The reporter wanted nothing more than to tell me I’d impressed him.

I thought about this exchange a lot in the days that followed. Had someone told me I played hockey like a boy when I was 15, I would have worn that description like a badge. Hell yeah, 15-year-old Sarah would have thought, I do play like a boy. I’m as tough as a boy. I’m as fierce and competitive as any boy on my team. I would have reveled in it, just as I reveled in a similar label I’d received even earlier in my adolescence: tomboy.

Yeah, I was a tomboy. I hung around with the neighborhood boys, riding bikes between each other’s houses or catching salamanders in the creek that ran through town. I loved sports, and my bedroom walls -- papered with newspaper clippings and photos of Flyers players -- were a far cry from the pink-tinged rooms that belonged to the girls at school. 

As much as I could, I dressed like a boy too, even once cutting the sleeves off of an oversized T-shirt before I went out to rollerblade with our next-door neighbors. My grandmother, who was visiting at the time, pulled me aside to tell me I really ought to dress more appropriately. I rolled my eyes.
I was a tomboy, and I loved the word and everything it stood for. I felt pride in my tomboyishness, believing that the things I liked – the things boys liked – were clearly better than the things stereotypically left to the girls.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit it was a conversation with a 15-year-old that changed my perspective, just a few days after my reporter friend had compared my hockey skills to those of a man. I sat down with Mo’ne Davis, the female Little League pitching phenom, for this very project. I asked her if she identified as a tomboy, and she shrugged. Not really, she said. Maybe other people wanted to define her that way, she suggested, but that wasn’t how she viewed things.

You know that record scratch sound effect they play on TV or in the movies? The one that denotes a sort of “wait … what?!” moment? That’s what happened in my head. Mo’ne Davis, the girl who played on the boys’ team and excelled, didn’t consider herself a tomboy?

Something clicked in my head after that. I’ve long identified as a feminist, and I’ve been a big supporter of girls in sports for as long as I can remember. I coach girls hockey, I’ve spoken at schools and camps about playing and working in sports as a woman. For some reason, though, it took a 15-year-old shrugging her shoulders at the label “tomboy” to take the power out of the word for me. Why does one have to be a tomboy, when one can simply be a girl who kicks ass? How had I never considered this before?

In many ways (and especially in sports) if something is male, it’s considered superior. It goes beyond just the things kids like to do, and it’s all old news. It’s also something I’m ashamed to admit I’ve bought into for practically all of my life. But no longer. How can I help change the narrative if I’m too busy playing along with it?

And if I could do it over, when that reporter approached me after our hockey game to tell me I skated like a man, I would have smiled, shook my head and said: Nah. But I skate like a darn good woman.